Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton to Follow Blueprint; Midlanders Showing the Way: Magpies to Follow Top-Flight Blueprint

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hughton to Follow Blueprint; Midlanders Showing the Way: Magpies to Follow Top-Flight Blueprint

Article excerpt

CHRIS Hughton has revealed how his plans for Newcastle United's return to the Premier League will follow a blueprint set out this season by Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, writes STEVE BROWN. The Blues have been a revelation under Alex McLeish, spending frugally by top-flight standards and flourishing with a settled side. They seem certain to finish ninth, or at least in the top 10 with some comfort.

And though Wolves could yet be relegated, that scenario seems unlikely after a recent upturn in form has seen Mick McCarthy's men climb away from the drop zone after just one defeat in six.

Such are the more modest parameters by which United, under the steady guidance of Hughton, now set their stall ahead of a "very, very difficult period". Though all areas will be monitored for grounds for improvement, a group of players who deserve "major plaudits" also warrant a shot back in the big-time.

But the Magpies manager believes that it is the correct path to follow as he seeks to re-establish in the top flight a club he considers it an "honour and a privilege" to lead.

"You assess what you have and what we have is a dedicated group of lads and real competition," Hughton said.

"We've gained momentum, we've seen players develop.

"I think you also look at sides who have gone (up) from this division, notably in Birmingham, who have had a wonderful season, and Wolves, who have got stronger as the season has gone on. These are sides that gained promotion last season. You have to assess the areas that need strengthening but we have a squad that deserves an opportunity. "I'm the person in position at this particular moment but it's about the team. "Up until now we've been the best team in the division. It'd be an honour to take this team into a higher division, a division this club deserves to be in. "We know how tough it is for any team that gains promotion to the Premier League. "But we've got to make sure we've got a good enough squad to be able to compete with what will be a very, very difficult period. …

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